The great debate going on right now when it comes to Iraq is whether the U.S. should pull out now or next spring or two years from now, etc. The congressional democrats seem to be focusing on little else than to draft new Iraq withdrawal resolutions almost on a daily basis. That filibuster slumber party that the Senate had last week must have been great fun. I won’t even mention the potential presidential candidates and their gesticulations when it comes to Iraq (I make it a rule to not discuss presidential elections until the year the election actually occurs).
Much of the debate centers around how the U.S. should not have gone into Iraq in the first place or lamentations concerning the cost in dollars ($750+ billion) or deaths (3,600+ American soldiers) or injuries (26,000+ American soldiers) or the development of jihadists caused by the U.S. presence, etc. The debate rages while the real question we should be considering is not asked and certainly not discussed. The question to me relates to the responsibility of the victorious country to the defeated country after deposing its legitimate government. In other words, to what degree are we responsible to the Iraqi people for re-establishing a legitimate government capable of fulfilling all the basic functions of a government (Admittedly, the definition of “basic functions” is debatable, but then no one is really doing that in this line of questioning so we have to start somewhere)?
This is not an easy question to answer, but I think we need to start talking about it rather than continue the current debate that disregards our responsibilities to the Iraqi people. Some may argue that the Iraqi people have had four years to establish for themselves a legitimate government, even pointing to the “laziness” displayed by the current Iraqi government taking the entire summer off or the lack of the Iraqi government to meet the milestones established for it by the U.S. I don’t think any of that matters. We are responsible for causing the current status of Iraq so we are responsible for ensuring the restoration of the country of Iraq. If this were a tort case, we would be responsible for restoring the country to the condition it was in when we “broke” it. The laws of occupation are similar and require that we account for the well-being of the citizens of the country that we invaded/liberated.
To leave now would be to abandon our responsibility under international law and under our own high standard of morals that we purport to hold dear as a country. We can’t just say that we gave the Iraqis a chance to establish themselves a legitimate government and since they didn’t do it on our timeline, we get to leave and “to hell with them” for being so lazy. We got this girl pregnant and we are responsible for the proper care and development of her children even though we don’t get visitation rights and she spends all the child support on meth and lottery tickets. If there is anything we should lament, it should be that we did not consider the whole cost to see this through before entering this fray. Reminds me of that metaphor in Luke 14 verses 28-30. Completely out of context, but I think the principle still applies.
I must say that I abhor this war. Ever since that stunt on the aircraft carrier with the “Mission Accomplished” banner and speech, I knew that our leadership had no idea what it was doing. I certainly want to see this thing end as soon as possible, yesterday preferably. But, I think we need to take a breath and realize what we are doing here. It doesn’t matter whether we should or should not have gotten into this war, leave that for the historians. It doesn’t matter how much money we have spent or will spend on this effort or that it may have exacerbated the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, etc. It doesn’t matter how many American soldiers die or are injured (not to mention Iraqis and others). We have a responsibility to see this through to the end. We do not have the luxury to leave at our whim if we claim to be a force for good.